Canadian tech group spends $100Okay on billboards to lure anxious tech staff from U.S.

The expertise trade within the Waterloo, Ont., area hopes a provocative billboard marketing campaign in Silicon Valley will entice anxious tech staff to maneuver to Canada.

Communitech, a Kitchener firm that advocates for the Canadian tech trade, has spent $100,000 on 9 full-size billboards stationed at key factors alongside Highway 101 from San Francisco to Santa Clara in California.  

The billboards ask, “What if my visa gets cancelled?” and “What if I lose my job and health insurance?” in opposition to the crimson and white backdrop of the Canadian flag. Underneath, there’s the Communitech web site deal with.

The marketing campaign refers back to the latest suspension of some work visas by U.S. President Donald Trump. Among them is the H-1B visa, which is well-liked amongst tech staff.

“All these people [who] potentially won’t be able to work in America are absolutely top talent from around the world,” mentioned Communitech CEO Iain Klugman.

“The message we’re trying to deliver to them is to say, ‘Hey, you know what, if you can’t work or you lose your job, we would like you to think about Canada.'”  

Workers who contact Communitech will get details about Canadian work permits and job boards, together with alternatives throughout the nation from Viatec in B.C. to Volta Labs in Nova Scotia, mentioned spokesperson Candace Beres. 

In the United States, H-1B visas can be found for as much as 85,000 individuals per 12 months. They’re for staff with “highly specialized knowledge” who’ve a minimal of a bachelor’s diploma, typically in science, expertise, engineering, instructing or accounting.

Carolyn Said, who covers enterprise and expertise for the San Francisco Chronicle, mentioned the freeze on H-1Bs was upsetting to individuals within the trade.

“I think people feel that it’s a very short sighted move,” mentioned Said.

“More than half of the big tech companies here … were started either by immigrants or by children of immigrants, and by cutting off future immigrants we’re cutting off the future Googles of tomorrow.”

Volatility drives migration: prof

History exhibits that political volatility typically pushes expert staff to maneuver, in line with demographer Michael Haan.

“Highly skilled migrants are extremely mobile, and they often react quite strongly to local political conditions because their bargaining power in other labour markets is so high,” mentioned Haan, a professor of sociology at Western University in London, Ont.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, greater than 2,000 immigrants got here to Canada from Hong Kong upfront of the deliberate 1997 handover of energy from Britain to China, Haan mentioned. Interest in transferring to Canada additionally rose throughout Brexit, he mentioned. 

He thinks the present freeze on U.S. visas might result in an identical scenario.

“People who are in the United States on those visas, particularly if they’re mobile and particularly if they’re high skilled, they probably won’t put up with it for very long,” he mentioned.

Jay Judkowitz moved to Canada in 2017 and is now a everlasting resident. He says he is grateful for the chance to work within the area. (Submitted by Jay Judkowitz)

Jay Judkowitz, who works for the Kitchener robotics firm Clearpath, moved to Canada in 2017 after spending the majority of his profession in Silicon Valley.

Judkowitz mentioned he was drawn by the prospect of a extra secure future for his two youngsters, and now, he is grateful to be right here.

Clearpath was based in Waterloo area in 2009 and now has many workers from the United States, in line with chief expertise officer Ryan Gariepy.

“We need more experienced people and we need more mentors for all of these new and exciting companies, which are being started in the region,” mentioned Gariepy.

Since Communitech’s billboard marketing campaign launched on July 27, greater than 75 individuals have signed their names to a listing requesting extra details about working in Canada. 

The marketing campaign runs till the top of August. 

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